Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
“The universe is but one great city, full of beloved ones, divine and human, by nature endeared to each other.” – Epictetus
Many of us do not feel good about ourselves. We might feel unsuccessful, especially if we have been let go from our job, even if that was because of cut backs and had nothing to do with us personally. We feel even worse if we were outright fired. We may consider ourselves a failure if we can’t feed our children. We might feel unloved if we are divorced or are in conflict with family members or one time friends. Even without these various circumstances, many of us just think ourselves of little importance, of little value. Then we hear in today’s Gospel, when Jesus comes out of the baptismal river, a voice from heaven saying “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22) Oh, to be so valued! Would that we could be so loved! Well, listen up! The rest of the New Testament and of the teaching of Jesus proclaim again and again that these words from heaven are not just for Jesus, but for all of us also. He is our brother. We are all valued family members. Hear the voice from the heavens shout out to us “You are my son, my daughter, my loved ones, with you I am well pleased.” Can we believe it? Such belief is called good news, and would instill a sense of self-worth. It is a known fact that when we feel good about ourselves, we can begin to value others. The universe is indeed but one great city of beloved ones (above Epictetus quote). Knowing that we are valued, we can spread it around. Jesus thought we could even value enemies. God is not naïve when he loves us all. God just happens to have keen sight, insight. The value in each person, and even of everything in the universe, is there to see. Once we see it in ourselves our eyes are open to see worth in our next door neighbor and in a distant star, in the stranger and in a lonely tree, in a politician and in a mountain top, in a thief and in a saint. God knows the significance and importance of all things. We can know also. The mind of God (image in which we were created?) is offered to us.
In Luke 3:22 God says with you I am “well pleased.” The Greek word in its most literal sense, although awkward in English, means “I think well in you.”
So loved as the best,
my best I return to all,